State Unemployment Falls for Third Straight Month
Florida's unemployment rate fell for the third straight month to 11.4 percent for June, even though the state shed jobs during the month. The drop put the state’s jobless rate at its lowest since October.
“This continuing decline in Florida’s unemployment rate is another strong indication that our economy is improving,” said Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo. “While we recognize that families and businesses, especially those impacted by the Gulf oil spill, continue to face challenges as the nation emerges from recession, this positive indicator should provide hope to Floridians.”
The agency released the June unemployment rate Friday, showing a decrease from 11.7 percent in May and an overall high of 12.2. percent in March. The 11.4 percent unemployment rate represents 1,056,000 jobless out of a labor force of 9,237,000.
“We just don't have enough jobs for all the unemployed,” said Rebecca Rust, chief economist for AWI.
The improvement is partially attributed to a shrinking labor force. According to the department, the labor force shrank by 34,000 from May to June, likely due to many people giving up on their job searches. However, jobs were still lost during the month, with the biggest loss coming in laid off census workers. As census taking wrapped up, 20,000 workers were laid off.
“If we didn't have that census impact we would have likely gained jobs,” Rust said.
The highest unemployment rates in the state for June were in Hendry County with 16.1 percent and Flagler County with 15.4 percent. On the other end, Liberty County has the state's lowest unemployment rate with 6.8 percent, followed by Monroe and Walton counties, each with 7.4 percent.
Unexpected was the relatively stable rate in Panhandle counties. State officials have heard for weeks about the economic hit suffered there because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – and lawmakers are talking about a possible special session later this year to deal with economic issues arising out of the disaster. But the Pensacola metro area had a 10.5 percent unemployment rate in June, with the Panama City metro area coming in at 9.3 percent and the Destin-Fort Walton area coming in at 7.6 percent, the lowest for the state.
The area is just now hitting the peak of its tourism season, so the numbers in the coming months will be more telling. But for now, work for BP appears to offset the loss of tourists, giving at least a minor boost to some businesses in the area, fending off widespread layoffs.